EVEN AS critics argue that the Indian television landscape, already saturated with more than 600 channels, shows no scope for fresh players to walk in, the Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) genre—one of the biggest contributors to the broadcasting pie—only chooses to tread the path of a devoured optimist.
On June 23, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) launched Zindagi, a Hindi GEC, to showcase select content handpicked from across the border. To begin with, the channel tied up with various producers from Pakistan to acquire licences for almost 4,000 hours of recent library content from that country.
During its launch, Punit Goenka, managing director and CEO, ZEEL, had said, “The launch of Zindagi is significant in many ways. It is a step forward to further expand the ZEEL network in India. This channel is a first in its category of GECs and will offer alternative fiction content suitable for Indian sensibilities and produced by content creators from around the world.” With Zindagi added to its already existing 32-channel bouquet in India, ZEEL’s strategy is not only to further fragment the R4,17,200-crore TV landscape and craft out a new niche, but also help push the around R4,500-crore GEC pie towards an expanded growth.
Now, even as Zindagi finds foot in the television-viewing audience, the market is already abuzz with new players jumping on to the GEC bandwagon. While Multi Screen Media (MSM) is launching a new GEC, Sony Pal, on September 1, ZEEL is working on its new Hindi GEC under the ‘&’ brand—planned for launch during the latter half of this year. For the record, in August last year, ZEEL had launched the movie channel, &pictures, under the & brand in an attempt to break away from the Zee branding, a similar move that Star India made in 2011 when it launched the brand OK. ZEEL chief content and creative officer Bharat Kumar Ranga had then said the broadcaster would eventually build a network of channels under the banner in a bid to target mass television viewers.
Interestingly, it’s the top networks that are ready to welcome and launch fresh GEC products in the space. Some say the idea is to create strong entry barriers for new aspirants to walk in. “When a strong network launches a channel, the costs can be absorbed, there is a long gestation period and cross-selling can happen too. For single and new players, the same launch